Trauma and the Soul

How does trauma affect the soul?

Working with trauma is getting a lot of attention these days and rightly so as in the United States alone, it is estimated that over 223 million people suffer from some type of trauma. That’s 70% of the population.

Understanding trauma and skill with working with it in the psychological and emotional arenas has grown tremendously in the past few decades, but what about spiritual work with trauma. How does trauma affect our soul?

Trauma is any experience which the soul is not able to tolerate with the resources available to her at the time of the event. A trauma can be physical, as in the case of physical accidents, bodily injuries, severe or chronically incapacitating sickness. It can also be emotional, related to the physical trauma, a response to a trauma in the immediate family, witnessing abuse or trauma happening to others, or being emotionally traumatized by other’s cruelty and mistreatment, by an important loss like a death in the immediate family, etc. Trauma has such a powerful impact on the soul that its influence can last a lifetime and affects our life and experience profoundly even when we have no recollection of the trauma. – A. H. Almaas, The Inner Journey Home, ch. 12

frozen trauma pain suffering

Due to the intensity of the energetic and emotional shock of trauma, the soul’s identification with who/what we are becomes, in a way, rock-solid. This is often referred to as “frozen” in trauma work.

Our identity becomes frozen in time as does our protective, defensive, coping energy.

Vulnerability & Trauma

Vulnerability has its own emotional issues. People block vulnerability because of various emotional traumas from childhood. Understanding these traumas will allow the possibility of vulnerability. This is one reason we work on emotional understanding. The more you understand your emotions and why you block them, the more you allow yourself to be vulnerable.  –  A. H. Almaas, Diamond Heart Book Three, ch. 13

 Previous Events on Trauma and Spirituality

Recently, A. H. Almaas had dialogues with two prominent experts in the field of trauma: Gabor Mate and Thomas Hubl. In both of these dialogues, trauma is explored from both the therapeutic and spiritual views.

In THE NEUROBIOLOGY OF “WE:” How Relationships, the Mind, and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are, Dan Siegel talks about his work with PTSD patients and how the effects of trauma on memory and orienting in present time are two of the major factors that need to be worked with to “unfreeze” the individual from their traumatic event.

Trauma & Spirituality Event

trauma and spirituality

The Diamond Approach continues to respond to the interest and needs for deeper work with and understanding of trauma and its influence on spiritual development with Trauma & Spirituality: Somatic Gifts and Challenges on the Path, a part of the Spiritual Wisdom of the Body series.

Trauma & Spirituality is presented by Jessica Britt, a student of Hameed Ali’s since 1977 and a Diamond Approach teacher since 1985. She is a Diamond Approach training director, leading ongoing groups in Europe, Canada, and the US. In the ’80s she was on the Gestalt staff of Esalen Institute creating an integration of Reichian and Gestalt work. While at Esalen, she was a student within the Native American Traditions, leading wilderness journeys. In addition, she studied Continuum Movement with Emilie Conrad. A nurse in the ’70s, she specialized in the field of childhood sexual & physical abuse. 

Initial work on trauma begins with the practice of presence, developing more and more capacity to be with what is happening right now. As Jessica points out, working with trauma is like a process of titration – deepening presence while slowly increasing one’s capacity to be in touch with the frozen pain and emotional energy.

The Role of Compassion

spiritual trauma work

Working with trauma requires a great deal of compassion and patience. Compassion, loving-kindness, provides the holding which allows the frozen to thaw. This is not something that can be done, it needs to be allowed.

Sometimes emotional catharsis of one sort or another occurs as the conflicts that are blocking the student’s experience of himself are brought to consciousness. Unconscious material arises and is investigated, and this generally allows an expansion, or spaciousness, in the student which in turn allows the more subtle qualities to manifest. The fundamental attitude which governs how we work with students is what we call “allowing.” That is, the teacher refrains from judgment and pushing the student, instead using skillful questioning and compassionate presence to allow the student to investigate what is happening. Also the student is encouraged to experience his emotions, thoughts, sensations and conflicts without rejecting them, but rather gently investigating them. When this attitude of allowing is learned, the student can then confront amazingly deep and terrifying material. And the process of learning this “allowing” attitude is in itself a loosening of the ego’s constraints, since as we have discussed, it is in the nature of ego to reject present reality and focus on its fears or desires.  –  A. H. Almaas, The Pearl Beyond Price, Ch. 2

Many people live much of their life unaware of past trauma. Some are aware in various degrees and try to work with it by “toughing-it-out,” or other defensive survival strategies employed at a young age with limited cognitive and emotional capacity. Separation from true nature, the ground of being, is traumatic for the soul, So, understanding trauma can serve most everyone on a spiritual path.

Transformation & Trauma

trauma work spirituality

Work on trauma and abuse is necessary if the individual is serious about inner transformation. We have observed that some individuals do not become aware of their trauma or abuse history until they go deep in their inner journey. But we have also observed the limitations such history places on the individuals who do not deal with it effectively. Our recommendation is that individuals who know that they have such history try to confront it and deal with it therapeutically before fully engaging the inner journey. Otherwise, this unmetabolized history not only limits one’s capacity to traverse the path, but also distorts it and its experiences.  –  A. H. Almaas, The Inner Journey Home, Notes

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